Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
First Vice President Amrullah Saleh vehemently denied the claims of an investigation by Pajhwok Afghan News that found 32 ventilators which had been donated to the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) were smuggled to Pakistan.
“NO ventilator is missing from the inventory of the Ministry of Health in Kabul or provinces. NONE,” Saleh tweeted on Tuesday. “Don’t fall in the trap of lies and falsehood. When someone tells you that your nose was stolen by the cat touch your nose first before chasing the onlooking cat. Calm down.”
The documents received by Pajhwok’s investigative team showed that each device was worth between $18,000 to $25,000 and an audio clip mentioned that the S-100 model ventilators were stolen from the MoPH.
At least 12 security personnel were killed and five were wounded in a Taliban attack in the Dasht-i-Archi district in Kunduz.
Esmatullah Muradi, spokesman for the provincial governor, said the Taliban attacked a security checkpoint at around 1am on Tuesday morning.
He also added that four Taliban members were killed and six were wounded in the clash.
The fighting continued for a few hours until reinforcements arrived and managed to push the Taliban back.
At least six policemen were killed and one was wounded in a Taliban attack in Balkh’s Chahar Bolak district on Monday night.
Munir Ahmad Farhad, spokesman for the provincial governor said the attack took place in Peyazkar village’s police checkpoint. “The clashes continued for more than three hours,” Farhad said.
He added that the Taliban had also suffered casualties but did not say how many.
Meanwhile, another attack at Baba Yusuf village in Balkh district killed at least seven soldiers, including the commander of the security checkpoint. The Taliban also abducted six other soldiers.
The Taliban has not yet commented on the attacks.
The 201st Selab Corps of the Afghan National Army said they had killed six Taliban members and wounded at least three more during separate clashes in Kapisa province over the past 24 hours.
On their Facebook page, they said the Taliban clashed with the security forces in seven different skirmishes in the Shalitoo area of Tagab district.
The Taliban militants attacked the 201st Selab Corps who were doing clearance operations in response to the repeated attacks of public uprising forces members.
The Taliban has yet to comment on the clashes so far.
On Tuesday, unknown gunmen also shot Ahmad Shah, a Kapisa Court of Appeals judge while he was on his way to work.
President Ashraf Ghani called on the Taliban to stop using violence as he condemned the killing of the five employees of the Attorney General’s Office on Tuesday.
In his statement, Ghani told the group to accept the demands of the government and the Afghan people to end the war and establish lasting peace.
He said that the attack on civilians and government employees was an inhumane act against the principles of Islam. He added that the continued violence by “enemies” was an attempt to harm the peace process.
The Taliban has already condemned the Monday morning attack that killed the prosecutors, and they too were launching a “comprehensive investigation”
Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesperson for the Taliban, added, “It should be reminded that the peace process has many enemies and opponents. Everyone must remain cautious of such plots.”
The Ministry of Interior also said an investigation has been launched to find the perpetrators of the attack which has drawn international condemnation as the employees had been on their way to the Bagram Justice and Detention Centre and were facilitating the prisoner exchange.
The government of India reacted strongly to the abduction of Afghan Sikh Nedan Singh who was abducted from Paktia’s Tsamkani district.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said Singh was a “leader of the Hindu and Sikh community of Afghanistan” and the attack on minorities was concerning.
“The targeting and persecution of minority community members by terrorists at the behest of their external supporters is a matter of grave concern.”
Srivastava said India was in touch with the Afghan government for ensuring the safety, security and well-being of the minority community in Afghanistan.
“We hope that the government of Afghanistan would be able to secure safe and early release of Mr Nedan Singh.”
A Sikh member of the Afghan parliament, Narinder Singh, had assured the community that he is helping to find the abducted man.
Kapisa police said unknown gunmen shot and killed Ahmad Shah, an Appeals Court judge, while he was on his way to work on Tuesday morning.
Spokesman to the provincial governor, Qais Qaderi, said the incident took place at 8am in Kapisa’s capital city’s PD 1, and the gunmen fled the scene.
Investigations are ongoing and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
This comes a day after five members of the Attorney General’s Office were shot dead while on their way to work.
The Ministry of Public Health said 324 positive Coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the country in the past 24 hours, pushing Afghanistan’s total to 29,481 cases.
They reported the deaths of 20 people and recoveries of 419 patients, taking those tallies to 618 dead and 9,260 recovered cases.
New cases were reported in the provinces of Herat (98), Kabul (92), Balkh (40), Ghazni (39), Badakhshan (19), Paktia (18), Laghman (10), Nangarhar (4), Kunar (3) and Samangan (1).
The government tested 953 samples over the day of which 34% tested positive.
There are 19 cases who are in serious condition.
With COVID-19 spreading rapidly through Pakistan which has seen more than 180,000 confirmed cases, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is calling for support to mitigate the spread amongst Afghan refugees and other vulnerable communities.
Pakistan has seen a 257% increase in confirmed cases in the last month and is now recording its highest daily death rate. The IRC is strengthening health systems in Pakistan to help mitigate the spread among Afghan refugees as they face the health and economic impacts of the pandemic amidst deteriorating living conditions.
Adnan bin Junaid, Pakistan Country Director at the IRC said, “The country is home to more than 1.5 million Afghan refugees… who mostly live in overcrowded homes with poor access to water and sanitation, making it nearly impossible for these people to socially distance and protect themselves from the disease.”
He pointed that these people may have compromised immune systems as their face severe food insecurity. “COVID-19 restrictions have impacted access to food for Afghan refugees, leaving them hungry and putting their lives at risk,” Junaid said.
The problem is compounded because refugees have severely limited access to healthcare with one doctor for every 963 people.
The IRC is working with national and regional health and disaster management departments of the government, but still the conditions have worsened with the spike in infections.
They have launched a US $30 million appeal to help mitigate the spread of Coronavirus within the vulnerable population.
The future leaders of Afghanistan called on the country’s government and the Taliban to extend the ceasefire and accelerate the intra-Afghan peace talks to end the “non-sense war” in the country.
Around 48% of Afghanistan’s population is under the age of 15, and they are speaking up from provinces across the country as part of the “Let’s Talk Afghanistan” programme, which was started by the Kabul-based ArtLords who have become known for their murals that talk about social transformation.
The “Let’s Talk Afghanistan” project fosters cross-provincial dialogue between Afghans of all ages, gender, and ethnicity. It aims to promote empathy and tolerance by connecting communities that have been isolated from one another during the decades-long conflict.
The young delegates of the programme asked for the ceasefire as it allowed the government to pay attention to other problems and “tackle our most challenging issues such as lack of security, youth’s illegal migration from the country, unemployment, poverty and lack of resources to prevent the spread of COVID-19” in Afghanistan.
They spoke out on behalf of all Afghan youth and urged the two sides to include a “practical agenda for peace where social justice and individual rights are preserved.”
The programme’s young delegates also pointed that they make up a majority of the country and should be actively participating in the intra-Afghan peace talks, since 65% of the Afghan population is under the age of 25.
They also called said the youth of Afghanistan, living inside and outside the country, need to be included in the dialogues for a sustainable and peaceful Afghanistan.
Uzbekistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Ismatulla Irgashev spoke to his newly appointed Pakistani counterpart Mohammad Sadiq Khan and wished him success.
They spoke about Uzbekistan’s and Pakistan’s efforts to resolve the Afghan crisis and bringing an end to the two-decades long war.
They also discussed the speedy launch of the intra-Afghan peace negotiations and a political solution of the conflict.
Views were also exchanged on how Uzbekistan-Pakistan cooperation can be directed to restore the Afghan economy and implement infrastructure projects in the country.
Russia’s Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov met U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad on Monday, to discuss countering international terrorism.
Antonov “emphasized the importance of coordination of our approaches on Afghanistan,” the embassy tweeted.
Russia, the U.S. and Afghanistan had held a trilateral consultation on June 15 to discuss the intra-Afghan peace process.
The Lower House of the Afghan Parliament, Wolesi Jirga, asked the government to introduce their Cabinet ministerial nominees to the House for a vote of confidence soon.
They emphasised that the government cannot regulate a cabinet run by acting or interim ministers and this has had a detrimental effect on the country.
A number of lawmakers expressed displeasure at the delays for the process and said the government must end having acting ministers to ensure that the ministries work efficiently.
Mir Rahman Rahmani, Speaker of Wolesi Jirga, said: “As for the nomination of ministers, the Wolesi Jirga will vote on the specialty of the profession… and if the candidates do not receive a vote, they have no right to continue as acting ministers.”
The members also stated that if a candidate does not receive their vote of confidence, they should not be re-nominated, and instead the “government should nominate new ministers and not create more challenges.
Iran’s Minister of Interior Abdol-Reza Rahmani Fazli discussed expanding bilateral relations and strengthening cooperation with Afghanistan in various fields should be integrated, approved and implemented within the next three months.
Fazli met Afghanistan’s acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Hanif Atmar and said both sides have raised important issues and are working on the draft of the document for comprehensive cooperation.
The two nations also decided to form joint border commissions on a regular basis to raise issues about the security arrangements along their shared borders.
The Iranian minister also noted the issue of Afghan citizens and how they cross the border into Iran. Atmar thanked Iran for taking care of Afghan migrants for the last forty years.
Both governments announced they would try to remove all obstacles that are in the way of legal commute and facilitate legal crossings for Afghans to enter Iran “through completely legal and supported routes,” Fazli said.
They also announced joint meetings with neighbouring provinces and investors in the border areas to promote regional development between Iran and Afghanistan.
“Iran is ready for these meetings and we hope that my colleagues in economic and security areas and Mr. Atmar’s colleagues in the economic and security areas of Afghanistan to give us a specific schedule to do this,” Fazli indicated.
The ministers hoped that the various meetings and exchange of ideas would bring “blessings” to both the nations.